This week's special, extended but condensed edition of On The Radar features 8 (!) new spots. It's the coup de grace, the final countdown, the last word on what's going down at Found 158.
These are joining JZ Club, Homeslice, Blackstone Magic Bar, and Hooked, which were already discussed at those links.
What It Is: A French bistro and lounge from a chef educated in Shanghai's own Le Cordon Bleu campus and it shows. The actual menu is still up in the air, but expect lobster, crab, mussels, beef tartare, tomahawk steaks, the works. The "twists" come in the form of things like seared ratatouille (to make it look more like the ratatouille from Ratatouille), and a foie gras ice-cream that looks like something you'd make at that Make-Your-Own-Magnum. They've got a long bar as you enter for those who just want to have a drink. After 10 pm, they'll have snacks on offer, and a different, simpler version of the daytime menu. For now they're in super soft open, from 6pm to 11pm, except Mondays.
First Impressions: Clean and classy, it seems like they're not reinventing the wheel, just adding some dazzlers on the spokes and maybe upgrading the treads. Hard to tell until the menu's finished, but it looks like a French bistro, all right. They've got a live lobster tank and blue-and-white tiled floors!
What It Is: The newest addition to the Cyclo franchise, including the original Cyclo and Mr. Banh Mi, this is a good-looking eatery that does an expanded version of the original menu. They've incorporated Laotian and Cambodian dishes, like lak mo and amok, on top of their go-to's like pho, adding a lot more variety in the form of seafood dishes and vegetarian. The interior's spacious, red and lofty, with these cool glass-top tables showcasing spices and other Southeast Asian accoutrements. Gimmicky to some, nice touch to others.
First Impression: It's got a chill vibe, and the food here was good stuff. The wide array might encourage you to try something beyond your usual dishes. Definitely recommended, especially during summer when they'll be able to open the entire wall up and you can enjoy some Southeast Asian food in the muggy Shanghai night air. Is it weird I'm looking forward to that?
What It Is: Imagine El Luchador in Xintiandi, except with a greater focus on tacos and tequila. Modeled after the one in Suzhou, and situated right next door to Hooked (they have passages between the two, as the bathroom's located on the Hooked side), it's got a chilled cantina sort of vibe. Big murals on the wall, a Lucha Libre aesthetic, they even show Lucha on the TV. The wall behind the bar has an entire shelf dedicated to tequila. For now the menu's tacos, quesadillas and burritos, but they're planning on expanding to include things like tostadas and and ceviche.
First Impressions: The tacos are great. You can get one for 35rmb or three for 100rmb, and even though they look small, they're tasty. With Chef Eduardo splitting his time between the different venues (and Suzhou, bless him), he's making sure the quality stays tiptop. And the tequila is amazing. If all you're used to are salt, lime and tequila slammers, you owe it to yourself to try some of their Casa Noble. It's smooth. It's rico. Suave.
What It Is: The newest physical outpost for German craft brewery Zapfler, it's a small-ish beer joint. It has a tiny stage with an incongruously impressive-looking lighting setup. Zapfler beer goes for 50rmb a pop (or 45rmb if you pay by WeChat), and they have some exceedingly beery beer food; curry wurst (28rmb), schnitzel (38rmb), goulash (128rmb, comes with Swabian noodles), the works. The live music gets pumping a bit later in the evening.
First Impressions: I'm not a massive fan of Zapfler, but if you are, it looks like this might be the first place down here to be a genuine replacement for an ex-Yongkang Lu spot. It's got Heike Mate on the menu too, which I appreciate, it's like a wholesome energy drink. Also, it has a dedicated bathroom. This is a wise choice.
What It Is: The newest thing from the owners of Pasha, Pera's expanding the original repertoire to include more Mediterranean tastes as well as some new Turkish dishes. The doner's still strong with this one, but the new chef's from an island in the Aegean, and he's bringing seafood-y mezzes and main courses with him. They also want to give this place a bit more of a party vibe; they turn up the music after 10pm, push the tables aside a bit and, if reports are to be believed, make the paper napkins rain, y'all. Definitely seen that happen in the Mediterranean, so it passes the authenticity test there.
First Impressions: If you've had Pasha food, you can expect the same here; it's good. Nice vibe, if you're a fan of tavernas and the like, and the interior is well done. And they don't skimp on the raki portions.
What It Is: A whiskey and cocktail bar aimed mostly at wealthy locals, judging by the clientele. They also do expensive, vaguely French / Mediterranean food. You're looking at cocktails for either 78rmb or 88rmb, an extensive whiskey list going up to 6,000rmb bottles of Japanese stuff, and decently sized portions of food for 200rmb and upwards. They've got seafood and cheese platters (128rmb), salads (78rmb), grilled rib-eye (228rmb), pizzas (100-200rmb), and risottos (about 90rmb).
First Impression: If you did a google search for "fancy cocktail lounger," you'd probably end up with Genesis. Like a very clean M2 with the lights on. But there are odd little incongruities in evidence. I tried The Genesis cocktail (78rmb), which mixed a smoky Single Malt and Bourbon for the base. That's... bold. The waitress and the bartender couldn't quite decide who was supposed to present it to me. And the menu had this kind of leathery, aged treatment that also made it really hard to read in places. But hey, the food looked good, it looks pretty, and it looks like they execute less daring cocktails well. Feels like it might funnel off some of JZ's crowd.
What It Is: An upscale Japanese spot with a Taiwanese chef. It's got a silent sliding glass door, leading into a minimalist, slick-looking warren of dining rooms. They've got a raked pebble garden out front. Mostly it looks to be seafood, imported from Hokkaido, but they've got other dishes available. Kobe beef was mentioned. They've got three set dinners available for 1,280rmb, 1,680rmb and 1,980rmb per person, respectively. The set meals are decided every day by the chef. The price doesn't include alcohol but does include "special tea."
First Impression: It's fancy. Pricy, but it looks like the set of a Japanese corporate drama. It's open from 2pm to 10.30pm every day, and, crucially, you need to reserve a day in advance. Phone number's in the listing. Looks intense. We might have to go back for a closer look.
Jin Guan Cheng
What It Is/First Impressions: It's a hotpot place. Not being reductive or dismissive, that's what it is. You like hotpot? Here's the only hotpot joint down in Found 158. It looks nice, they've got a big menu and a bank of choose-your-own sauces, as well as a variety of hotpot styles. It's bright, it's clean, it's just at the bottom of the escalators as you head into Found 158 from the west.
There. It's done. We've done it. It's finally over. Let us never speak of this place again.
Until Arkham (opening mid April), Cafe Des Stagieres, and that place from the Xixi Bistro guys opens, that is.